Classroom battles

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Rod Grant’s contention that setting of classes in primary schools was ”cruel” (your report, 7 May) revives an old argument, which was well answered by Gavin Calder (Letters, 11 May). It is a rare teacher who has not encountered both the frustration felt by able pupils when limited by the slow progress of a mixed-ability class, taught at the pace of the slowest, and also the restriction on the latter, reluctant to be seen learning in case they have grasped the point too slowly.

The hope that every pupil can leave his past behind at the start of a school year is also surely misguided. All progress must be judged against what came before and it would be a strangely segregated common room in which P2 staff did not hear rumours over coffee of what Joe Bloggs in P1 had been up to, both in the maths class and the playground that day and over the year.

A decent setting system relies, of course, on easy fluency of set changing and, as in all education, it comes down to the class teacher getting to know the class in depth.

Colin Evans

Edinburgh

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